Markedge Lane, Merstham, has already become a legendary place, indeed. That was a secret cozy location for hundreds of people that lived nearby, cyclists and drivers, and those who traveled abroad. Famous Fanny’s Farm Shop was opened in 1979 by an ordinary woman Fanny Maiklem. She decided to start her own farm shop which became a landmark of Markedge Lane and screwed up her name in the history of this region.
The story began from a small home enterprise where Fanny sold the surplus of vegetables, flowers, and homemade things. Here every visitor was able to buy courgettes, runner beans, gladioli, and lovely jam pots. Further, Fanny’s places have developed from the grocery to a tea & pudding rooms, dining premise and tree house for venues, such as weddings, birthdays, or private holidays.
What do visitors come for? Why did it become popular?
Everyone from young to old came here to enjoy food, but not only for that reason. The Farm Shop was situated close to many cycling routes, so some years after establishment it became popular among cyclists. They had a rest in the middle of Surrey Hills with a cup of afternoon tea or refreshment drink in the garden of Fanny’s place. The tea place accommodated up to 7 guests and the famous Treehouse held up to 10 guests. There was also the Pudding Room where people had dinner: eggs, honey, delicious locally-made cakes and even marmalade sausages accompanied with a cup of afternoon clotted-cream drink. Did you feel that atmosphere? People came to the Surrey Hills not only for food.
In a few years after starting as a simple local grocery, the Farm Shop became a place that everyone knows.
Fanny’s 29-year-old daughter Nell became a helper of family business hand-by-hand with Fanny. She was closely connected to the business matters and became a manager of the place. For example, she was helping people that worked for the Farm Shop in different periods. Fanny calls that a ‘Land Army’, meaning people that bring their love in producing something worth for community (editor`s mark).
After the business expanded, Fanny`s Farm Shop became a partner with 20 product suppliers located within 20 miles. As for the fruits which came from other continents, Fanny told it is a local market and that format of grocery is not her cup of tea. Moreover, it definitely fits better to a bigger shop, so she tended to sell locally produced food.
Once the M25 road was occupied due to a highly intensive traffic, people came here for a rest or for help, as far as they spent plenty of time being on route. That day Fanny was on her feet because of a tight crowd around her place, but still she was happy to help and distract them from problems. (Story is taken from Nicholas Owen interview with Fanny Maiklem)
The special event took place in October when the Fanny’s Farm Shop marked its 30th anniversary. That day Fanny hosted the Wessex Countess for a lunch. She enjoyed the Surrey scenery and views a lot. The thing she told Fanny was “It takes me back to my childhood” while smelling the newly-picked apple.
On September 12, 2015, after Fanny Maiklem’s death in June, Fanny’s Farm Shop was closed. This woman dedicated to the place her inherent beauty and soul for 36 years.